The Acts of the Democracies
Workers cannot go to the toilet more than once per 8 hour shift and they cannot drink water more than twice per shift. Workers commonly faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition during their shifts. Health care is inadequate. At the Sam Yang factory, with 6000 employees, one doctor works only two hours a day but the factory operates 20 hours a day. Night shift employees do not have any on-site medical emergency services.
Abuse of workers is rife: 15 Vietnamese women tell CBS News (USA television) that they were hit over the head by their supervisor for poor sewing, two were hospitalised. Another 45 women are forced by their supervisors to kneel down with their hands up in the air for 25 minutes.
100 workers at the Pouchen factory, a Nike site in Dong Nai, are forced to stand in the sun for half an hour for spilling a tray of fruit on an altar with which three Taiwanese supervisors were using. One employee (Nguyen Minh Tri) walks out after 18 minutes, and is dismissed. 56 women at the same factory are forced to run around the factory grounds. 12 of them faint and are taken to hospital.
A Nike plant supervisor from Korea flees Vietnam after being accused of sexually molesting several women workers. Many women workers have complained to Vietnam Labour Watch about frequent sexual harassment from foreign supervisors. Even in broad daylight, in front of other workers, these supervisors try to touch, rub or grab their buttocks or chests. One supervisor told a female factory worker that it is a common custom for men in his country to greet women they like by grabbing their behinds.
Nike uses subcontractors in Vietnam so that it can legally evade responsibility for local conditions. However, the company dictates the price of shoes and also the cost of operation to its subcontractors. This forces them to set high quotas for their workers and to pay low wages. It has been estimated that the labour cost involved in making one pair of Nike shoes is only $3. These may then sell for over $100 in the USA and Europe.
Other plants utilising cheap labour are in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea. Nike, admits to its shareholders that it has used child labour in Vietnam as well as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.
Philip Knight, the founder of Nike, is reputed to be worth $5,400 million. The 1992 promotional fee to basketball player, Michael Jordan was $20 million, more than was paid to the workforce in Indonesia making Nike products.
|Ginni, an 8 year old girl in the Punjab region of India making footballs (soccer balls) for export to Italy.
She earns $20 per month.